What is stretching exactly? A lot of people stretch out of habit before a workout. However, very few stop and think about what the Hell they’re actually doing.
Well, there are two types of stretching. One is dynamic stretching and the other is static stretching. We’ll find out, not all stretching is created equal.
- There is no evidence to suggest stretching before a workout is beneficial
- Stretching can lead to injury
- There is evidence that stretching before a workout is counterproductive
- Stretching does not increase flexibility
- Dynamic stretching and static stretching are very different
Dynamic stretching isn’t really your conventional stretching. When people think of stretching, they think of ballerina’s gracefully bending on a handle bar in a mirrored room or a sprinter getting ready to step up to the line.
Dynamic stretching refers to a warm up. Body weight squats before a set of weighted squats is usually what people refer to as dynamic stretching.
A body weight exercise is generally any exercise you can do without weights. The idea is to move the muscles enough to get blood flowing. This is suppose to prevent cramps or injury. The warm up is ideally a body weight exercise. The warm up exercise should be light enough to avoid affecting your routine exercise performance.
There is nothing wrong with dynamic stretching, but there is also no real good. There is no real evidence to support the idea that dynamic stretching has any significant effects on safety or performance. Most of what you hear in the gym is just bro science.
Static stretching is the real bullshi’t. That’s the one you see ballerina’s and other sports athletes do. Walk around your local gym and I bet there’s a ton of people wasting their time and energy stretching. Not only can static stretching be dangerous, but it can cause permanent damage.
When one stretches past the point of resistance, they begin to stress their joint. This may tear the ligaments and leave the bone loose in it’s socket. This leaves people more vulnerable to dislocations. The range of motion of a joint is genetic. The most we can do is increase our muscle fibers by resistance training. Recruiting more muscle fiber means your muscles can contract and extend longer and stronger.
Countless studies have been done confirming the counterproductive nature of stretching. A study by the The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, concluded that if you stretch before you lift weights, you may find yourself feeling weaker and wobblier than you expect during your workout. Another, more comprehensive study posted in The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports confirms the negative effects of stretching, in a reanalysis of all previous studies.
Should you Stretch?